Sarah Dowie’s maiden speech

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Colleagues and the National Party team.

As I deliver my first words in this awe inspiring Chamber, I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here.  I am reflective of the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal, and the overwhelming loyalty of my supporters. 

Many try to get here and fail but with the support and sacrifice of my husband Mark, my children Christabel and Hunter, the help of my parents Ann and Alan Dowie, my National Party friends – in particular, Garry Thomsen. Anne McCracken and Jon Turnbull for their colossal efforts and now, with the mandate of the good people of the Deep South, I am standing here – humbled, feeling surreal. I also acknowledge our party president Peter Goodfellow and board member Roger Bridge for their encouragement and wise counsel.

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-election.  I have learned much already from your own experience as a Minister and Member in Opposition and, I now look forward to learning from you as to the rules of engagement in the House. 

I am Invercargill electorate’s first elected woman MP and the moment is not lost on me.  The Invercargill electorate has, in the past been coined conservative, but is now charging forward into a new era. 

The Invercargill electorate is a mixture of both urban and rural.  It takes in the Catlins to the east with its ecological fame. It includes a yellow eyed penguin colony, a Hector’s dolphin pod, and the petrified-forest. Riverton and westward encompasses rolling hills, wind-swept forests and stunning rugged coastline scenes.  To the north there is Edendale and Wyndham’s fertile plains.  To the south is Bluff with its oysters and traditional port activities, as well as Rakiura that contains our newest and most remote National Park.  Finally, there is the city of Invercargill, our southern-most provincial city – steeped in Scottish tradition and one which holds on to that pioneering spirit. 

It is an electorate of can do’s, aspiration, innovation.  Businesses carving out new niches, capitalising on the tried and true of the primary sector, education, and tourism.  Developing and manufacturing new products for export. It is a quiet storm which is building to success. 

However, Southland will be tested moving forward – we need to build on the industries we have and ensure we develop opportunities for the future.  Industry productivity is challenged through a failure to attract more skilled people and families to the province.  While Southland’s economy needs to continue to grow based on its strengths in an environmentally sensible way it must also diversify to sustain it.  It also faces some real challenges in funding for essential services, especially when the spread of those services is across isolated areas. 

Despite these challenges, Southland continues to box above its weight per capita by generating over 12 per cent of New Zealand’s total export receipts.  We enjoy higher than average household incomes, high employment rates and we are some of the happiest people in the country, according to the latest annual Regional Economic Activity Report. 

There has been much media coverage in recent days and months about the cost of housing in Auckland so I say to those  Aucklanders who want a great lifestyle and affordable housing … does Invercargill have a deal for you!

I am deeply passionate about the region and will fiercely advocate for development that has already been identified to create more varied jobs, generate more wealth and more opportunities for Southlanders.  I will assist and support those who have innovative new ideas and I will be vocal on the delivery of effective essential services across the region.  That goes for anyone who wants to bring their businesses to one of the most cost-effective provinces in the country.

Mr Speaker, I intend to champion Southland’s progression to make it a province of choice for our people and families to thrive in and gain their fortune.

I am a proud mother of two pre-school children and while I am acutely aware of the juggling that I will have to do to ensure I do the job well but also to maintain that all important relationship with my family, I am not afraid to say that having children has changed my perspective for the better and driven me to contribute at this level. 

It is very hard to articulate the change in perspective as a mum but it’s a bit like going from watching black and white television to colour.  Or for the Generation Y’s out there, digital to HD.  I intend to use this breadth of view and colour in my approach to policy making.  One that is holistic.  I don’t view my life in a silo and hence I am supportive of the Government’s efforts to break down the silos of Government in its problem solving.  My opinions are mainly moderate, centre-right, and my approach to policy making will be for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

I am also the daughter of two police officers and by trade a solicitor, so law and order and justice is in my blood.  I was raised with a strong ethic of  ‘you reap what you sow’.

The consequence of crime and the reality of it was in the forefront of my upbringing.  My mother’s first husband, Constable Donald Stokes, was brutally murdered at age 23 while in the line of duty in Dunedin in 1966.  I was raised with his photos on the walls yet the tragic end of his life has been etched into my mind from a young age. 

On 13 November 1990, death on the job was again a reality as my father received a call from HQ to advise that one of his best friends, Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, had been shot dead at Aramoana.  I remember him methodically and soberly getting dressed in his uniform and walking out the door.  The sum of the following 22 hours, with helicopters flying across the airspace of Dunedin and the general unknown, was not lost on anyone in Dunedin.  However, it was obviously more pronounced for those with loved ones who were murdered or connected in some way. 

The sacrifice of brave men and women who put themselves on the front line to defend our liberties and the way of life which we hold dear in New Zealand is never far from my thoughts.  I take this country’s security and our personal security very seriously and as such I promise to uphold it, making sure that the Police and other agencies have the resourcing and tools required to mitigate threats and reduce crime. At the same time, I want to assure equal access to justice and the rule of law.   New Zealand as a safe and fair community is something to always be vigilant about.  

But nurturing and growing a safe community is not enough on its own, well not enough for me.  I believe in the concept of social justice in so far as it relates to enabling every New Zealander the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  This cannot be done, however, by keeping people down on an endless series of hand-outs.  It’s about creating an environment where people are supported to take responsibility for and to navigate their own lives.  For they are best placed to make those decisions.  It’s about helping people gain the skills to get them into work and, with a bit of can do attitude they will find they have options.       

I believe as did the Honourable Ralph Hanan, Invercargill’s last Minister in –

“…. Further(ing) the real progress of all the people …”

Mr Speaker, I am here to serve all New Zealanders to build on the wins that this Government has already achieved.

I am here because it is our duty to build a New Zealand in which the next generation, our children, are proud of. Where there is opportunity to get ahead in a country that has a heart to help those less fortunate but also rewards those that have the determination to work and make their own luck.  I want our children to be pleased with the legacy we have left but also have the fortitude to build on this Government’s platform and drive forward initiatives for the betterment of all.   

On a lighter note, I remember Sunday nights at 7.30pm in front of the telly with mum and dad watching Our World, a series of fascinating nature documentaries that are probably responsible for fuelling my interest in science.  I studied ecology at the University of Otago and coupled with a law degree it became a powerful combination in helping my all round understanding of environmental issues and conservation.

It was a desire to still use my law degree but more of my science degree which saw me working for the Department of Conservation for five years.  However, the department at that time is certainly not what it is today.  The culture back then was that of dogmatic “no” and ultimately I became frustrated when well put together, environmentally sensible proposals were shut down with no logical thought to the greater picture of conservation. 

It should be noted that I believe there is a place for preservation in New Zealand but there is also a place for sustainable development.  The idea of protectionism which, is often seen as competing with development, recreation, and enjoyment can be effectively balanced.  We are ultimately part of our environment – we are not separate from it.  We are dependent upon the environment for our wellbeing and our living.  These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

However, this frustration was nothing but a godsend as it catapulted me back to private practice and wanting to stay involved in environmental issues at a higher level, I joined the Bluegreens.  Our rationale is that economic growth goes hand in hand with improving the environment and therefore, resonates with me. 

Inevitably I was drawn into the main stream of the National Party, party conferences, policy days, and candidates’ training – the final step that sealed my fate as to seriously consider politics as a career.  I am therefore sincerely grateful for the advice and friendship of Glenys Dickson whose gentle, well-timed, and highly effective nudges steered me here today. 

As Amelia Earhart once said: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

So Mr Speaker, what I have learned in my short 40 years on this earth and what attitude I will bring to Parliament is:

I believe a superior understanding of the rules wins every time – I guess therefore Mr Leader of the House that I will be a regular attendee at Procedures Meetings.

I believe you should play the cards you are dealt, play them well and then wait for the re-deal.  With hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way.

Fight hard but fight fair and never lose sight of who you are or where you are from.  Humility is a characteristic that should never be underrated. 

I believe that one should be kind because you never know when you may need kindness in return to get you by. 

On winning the seat of Invercargill I was told by a friend to “dream big”.  In response I defer to one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity, someone who achieved and inspired despite the odds. 

Helen Keller said: “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” 

I promise to listen, to learn, to work, to dream and to do my best to soar. 

Mr Speaker, thank you.

45 Responses to Sarah Dowie’s maiden speech

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    I enjoyed campaigning with Sarah in Invercargill, she was a determined campaigner, but never made it personal. I appreciated her co-operation when I organised some high school visits and i know we have similar ideas about the future development of Southland. I am pleased that she has a genuine interest in the environment.

    She may have to look at the median household incomes of Invercargill people, though. We have 11 school communities out of 29 that are decile 3 or below (six decile 2). There are a lot of struggling families that are in employment but struggle to pay for their power bills and live in substandard housing. According to the Salvation Army there are around 420 people in Invercargill who are regarded homeless and we have limited temporary housing.

  2. TraceyS says:

    “She may have to look at the median household incomes of Invercargill people, though.”

    Why? She can’t give them all a pay rise. Only they and their employers can make that happen.

    In any case, Invercargill’s median personal income of $28,600 does not compare unfavourably with the rest of New Zealand.

    Unlike Dunedin’s (average across the two electorates): $23,450. Well below the national median personal income.

    Yet, despite this, Dunedin residents are second in the country in “overall quality of life”. http://www.qualityoflifeproject.govt.nz/pdfs/Quality_of_Life_2014.pdf

    Second after Wellington city with a median annual income of $36,200.

    Interestingly, only 26% of Dunedin respondents view “people begging in the street” as a problem, compared to 75% of Wellington respondents.

    Invercargill city was not included in the survey. From what Dave says, quality of life may well suck in Invercargill due to low incomes. I doubt it though.

    Money simply does not buy everything and certainly does not buy the most important things in life.

  3. TraceyS says:

    ^ Income figures from 2013 Census.

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, i am hoping Sarah could represent Invercargill in explaining how power bills are crippling many people, how the 209 state houses being sold off is a bad move unless private rentals reach the same standards and at $22,000, Invercargill’s median income is $2,000 less the the National median despite having unemployment lower than the national average. http://stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/QuickStats/AboutAPlace/SnapShot.aspx?ParentID=1000015&type=ta&tab=Income&id=2000075

    Only 14% in Invercargill earn more than $50,000 while for the whole country it is 18%.

  5. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    Stuck in the past? Using 2006 data?
    I doubt Sarah would do that. Thankfully.

  6. TraceyS says:

    Dave, I gave you the correct figures the other day on another thread.

    That you ignored them (now twice) is an indication of the arrogance I have been trying to point out. Thank you! I love being proved right.

    The data you need is here:
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/data-tables/electorate-tables.aspx

    The median personal income for Invercargill electorate (including teenagers) is $28,600.

    The national median personal income is $28,500.
    http://stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/quickstats-about-a-place.aspx?request_value=13067&tabname=Income

    Things have improved since 2006 when Invercargill sat 10% behind the national median. Most of that time we have had a National government. National is good for the regions, there is no denying it!

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    Damn, both of you are right and I was definitely wrong, how embarrassing 😛

    I did a Google search and saw 2013 at the top and didn’t check properly, sloppy work from me.

    The positive thing is that my actual argument was correct, I just used the wrong statistics. The median income is still less than the national one by $1,100 and the percentage of people who earned more than $50,000 in Invercargill is 3.2% less.

    There must be some very rich people in Invercargill to lift the average household incomes above the national average when our median incomes are lower. Therefore inequality is a worse issue for Invercargill than many other places.

    There is evidence for the inequality of incomes when you look at Invercargill Communities using school decile rankings. We have a solid group of wealthy and a larger group of low incomes and little in the middle. In fact we have no decile 6 and 7 schools at all. It is made clear in the graph here where I have got the data correct (I hope):
    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/invercargill-proves-ministers-wrong.html

    Tracey you could say that the National Government is good the regions, but based on the data you could more easily say that the National Government increases inequality and the dairy prices probably helped with income. The Chinese demand for our protein probably would have increased no matter who was in Government.

    It doesn’t help my credibility when I grab the wrong data, but it does mean there is value in commenting here because there is much more scrutiny of what I publish. I just have to endure a bit of gloating when I’m proven wrong or my spelling slips 😉

  8. TraceyS says:

    “There is evidence for the inequality of incomes when you look at Invercargill Communities using school decile rankings…”

    These figures are not up-to-date either, Dave! The review of school decile ratings based on the 2013 Census is not available until the end of November.
    http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/MinistryBulletinSchoolLeaders/Issue11/DecileRatings.aspx

    You must also be aware that these ratings are subject to review where schools request it and there is sometimes a vested interest in receiving a lower decile rating. So proceed with caution when drawing your conclusions on the basis of school deciles.

    For income data I suggest you refer to the data tables rather than the Quickstats or summaries. To make a more thorough analysis you need to look at the data by electorate. Then you can do things like exclude 15-20 year olds and 70+ year olds to see how families really fare.

    For Invercargill electorate this includes a bit of countryside, just as Dunedin electorates do (and makes for a fairly balanced comparison). Generally this brings the median up quite a bit. Evidence that more rural jobs is good!

    We’ve got to be very careful making assumptions based on statistics. A friend teaches at a school in one of the highest median income areas in the country ($33,000). Yet her students still often come to school without the essentials. I was involved with one of the lowest decile schools in Dunedin in an area with a median personal income of just $19,000 and it was rare to see children go hungry at that school.

    It is not expensive to make basic, but filling, lunches. What is sometimes more challenging is being organised, having ideas, and getting things done, eg. the grocery shopping, getting up in time to prepare. Children in families where no adult needs to get up early in the morning for work or education are at risk because it may be left up to the children to get themselves up, make a lunch, and then get themselves off to school.

    Families that don’t have cars are also at a disadvantage (imagine lugging your bags of groceries onto a bus). And there are so many other important factors to be taken into account.

  9. TraceyS says:

    “…and the dairy prices probably helped with income”

    Goodness Dave! Do I finally detect some acknowledgement of a trickle-down effect?

  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you have actually just supported my arguments. In rural communities dairy workers on farms are generally on very low wages. You are right about struggling children attending high decile schools, which only emphasizes my argument that there is a large number of struggling families.

    I would think when the 2013 statistics are applied to the decile ratings that we will see a growth in low decile communities in Invercargill. The state of housing in our less affluent areas is deteriorating and the Salvation Army has reported growing numbers of working families seeking food parcels.

    As for your comment about the trickle down theory, dairy farm workers are amongst the lowest paid and the only houses being built in Invercargill are for the most affluent, many of whom are retiring farmers. As with the rest of the country, wealth is being captured by a few and there is very little trickle down. Our local Grey Power President describe the trickle down theory well when he stated The trickle isn’t even a drip and I haven’t seen many puddles appearing recently.”

  11. Paranormal says:

    DK – yet again you don’t understand the bigger picture – you said “dairy workers on farms are generally on very low wages”.

    Perhaps you should stop and wonder why that is. Why would people accept that? or more importantly what are they receiving that makes them want to stay dairy workers?

    As always it’s the headline with you and no understanding of what’s actually happening here.

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Isn’t it because they just want a job like all the other who work on low wages? There aren’t a lot of choices.
    http://www.dol.govt.nz/News/Media/2014/dairy-farm-visits.asp
    http://milkingonthemoove.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/are-dairy-farm-workers-well-paid.html
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9447037/Survey-uncovers-underpaid-dairy-workers

    I found many articles about the low pay of dairy farm workers and how even with food and accommodation thrown in (which seemed attractive) many still earn below the minimum wage.

  13. TraceyS says:

    I know there are struggling families Dave. But from my first-hand experience there are a variety of complex reasons. Community is clearly very relevant to relieving all sorts of issues and this can be seen in the results for the quality of life project for Dunedin and also in public achievement information from the Ministry of Education which shows Dunedin schools well ahead when compared nationally despite Dunedin being a city well below the national median for personal income.
    http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/know-your-region/territorial-authority/territorial-authority-summary?region=14&district=71

    Blaming central government has never been something that’s appealed to my sense of community. I think it breeds bitterness and discontent which are not attractive qualities. It’s far more encouraging to focus on what we can do locally, you know, feeling self-sufficient and in control of or own destiny. Complaining only encourages the sense of being tied to government actions and thinking that’s the main way to improve things when it most certainly is not.

    Low unemployment (4.4% across Dunedin electorates), which means more families in a routine of getting up and going in the mornings – without life being too much of a race to get ahead – has probably got a lot to do with these positive indicators. Even if the jobs don’t pay as well as Wellington or Christchurch.

  14. TraceyS says:

    Dave, I’ve written about this before, but if a young relative of mine had been away in the country working on a dairy farm instead of in the city that fateful night he might still be here. Whatever the pay – it is better than hanging around in the city with nothing to do.

    It amazes me that you seem to ignore the value of being occupied. It is something quite separate from wage value. What a pity it’s not as easy to measure.

  15. TraceyS says:

    “I found many articles about the low pay of dairy farm workers and how even with food and accommodation thrown in (which seemed attractive) many still earn below the minimum wage.”

    You’re so innocent for a man your age Dave that I find you mildly charming!

    When I took my first job in the public sector I was paid a very good salary for a 21 year-old. But divided by the number of hours I worked each week it was below the minimum wage. But I loved that job and wanted to get ahead and prove myself and maximise the skills and experience I could pick up before moving on.

    There is often sacrifice on the way to greener pastures.

    We’re not teaching our kids that so much anymore. It’s all about now! That’s why some can’t wait for the trickle-down. It’s too slow for them and it’s not a straight path either.

  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    What you are describing, Tracey, is many families doing their best under difficult conditions and teachers and schools doing well despite being under constant attack.

    When there are clear indications of growing inequality in New Zealand and growing numbers of struggling families, one can just accept that and do nothing, or question the causes.
    http://www.3news.co.nz/business/inequality-growing-fastest-in-nz–oecd-2011120621
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11166484

    Inequality increased when the Government gave higher income earners tax cuts and increased GST. Relative to income, the poor end up paying more GST than the wealthy. New Zealand now taxes upper income earners far less than in Australia and our poor far more. What increases there has been in productivity hasn’t been passed on to workers and productivity has increased much more than wages. Despite the economy improving dramatically last year almost 50% of workers got no pay rise. Many of the businesses that have recorded record profits employ people on minimum wages:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/8154717/Countdown-delivers-tasty-profit-for-Woolworth

    I am not complianing, merely pointing out unnecessary suffering because of limited distribution of wealth. 50% of New Zealanders now have to share 5% of our country’s wealth while the 1% at the top have captured 16%. Small business in Invercargill are struggling because most people now have diminishing levels of discretionary spending.

  17. TraceyS says:

    “What you are describing, Tracey, is many families doing their best under difficult conditions and teachers and schools doing well despite being under constant attack.

    You, um, forgot the kids Dave. The kids are doing well and have bright futures and choices ahead of them.

    The fact that some people are very rich is not doing anything to harm their chances, present or future.

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    No the kids don’t, even the flawed National Standards data shows that there is a clear relationship between academic results and socio-economic background. Children from struggling homes are not able to access the sporting and cultural opportunities of others and low decile schools lack the resources and support for struggling kids that high decile schools receive:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8830344/Private-schools-snare-special-needs-cash

    It is even harder now for those going on to tertiary education as those from less affluent backgrounds end up with a large student debt. My wife and I set up a savings scheme to help our kids and even with working over holidays and winning scholarships they will still end up with a sizable debt.

    One of the reasons for the growing number of poor is because it is so difficult to move out of those circumstances. This Government is trying to close down schools catering for high needs kids and diverted funding to private schools that mainly cater for the affluent:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/126799/government-warned-over-wanganui-collegiate
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8065362/Salisbury-School-closure-declared-unlawful

  19. homepaddock says:

    Dave – tertiary student allowances are based on parental income, those from poorer families get help not available to middle and upper income ones.

    Students wanting to minimise debt have the option of working part time while studying or, as some do, working full time and saving for a year or two before studying.

  20. TraceyS says:

    “…National Standards data shows that there is a clear relationship between academic results and socio-economic background”

    But a “relationship” doesn’t mean that academic results will rise by increasing the median income. It might happen over several generations. But wouldn’t it be more expedient to focus on the quality of teaching and setting priorities on specific areas of need?

  21. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Students wanting to minimise debt have the option of working part time while studying or, as some do, working full time and saving for a year or two before studying.”

    Ele, student allowances are fairly minimal and any intensive course like medicine does not leave much free time to work part-time. Of course it is possible to do do tertiary study if you come from an impoverished background but it definitely isn’t a level playing field.

    Tracey, if you read any research on children forced to live in damp, cold unhealthy homes and suffering from the growing levels of respiratory illness or rheumatic fever it is difficult to properly engage in learning. If a home doesn’t have a computer or a quiet place to study, students are also at a disadvantage. It is not just about dishing out money, but lifting household incomes to a level where basic expectations of a first world home can be achieved.

  22. TraceyS says:

    Dave, just think how the young doctor will be benefitting in a few years from the lower top income tax rate under a National Government. So they damn well should too. Doctors (and others) who earn good money usually work huge hours for their pay whether they are hourly paid or salaried.

    On cold, damp homes I do not have to do research to know what it’s like to grow up in one. I’ve got personal experience! I don’t remember being sick much but do recall that there was always bottles of antibiotic medicine in the fridge. Mostly for my younger sister. She, my older sister, and I all shared a room.

    We didn’t have a computer at home. I used to read the dictionary and when Mum ordered a set of encyclopedia from a door-to-door salesman I read those from cover to cover. The smell of the pages is still really vivid in my mind. We also had Reader’s Digest which I’d sit in the bottom of my parents wardrobe to read. Not hard to find somewhere quiet when you really need to. Under the bed was also good. The cat was there too.

    We did have a computer at school though. And I engaged with it. In fact “properly” engaging in learning was never a problem whenever I had a great teacher to engage with. Some of them weren’t (unfortunately) and those were massive chinks in my education – like a switch flicking off – which eventually threw me off course.

    You’re right that entering tertiary education is not a level playing field. In so many ways. For a start, we are all born with different sets of gifts and talents. While I wasn’t even remotely economically advantaged, in other ways I was, and knew it because there were good teachers along the way who could recognise innate abilities without looking down their noses and judging me on my background.

    I know many kids who don’t have home advantages. Some of them are extremely bright and some have other awesome abilities which I know will advantage them in life if they stay out of trouble long enough to get into the routine of going to work, being wise with the money they earn, and also with the relationships they form. The last one is particularly important. Even the most advantaged can throw their lives off course by making poor choices in their personal relationships.

  23. Mr E says:

    Umm Dave,

    “dairy farm workers are amongst the lowest paid ”

    Feds remuneration survey for Dairy workers average13/14, total package average- $47,163 lower south island.

    Tough – those dairy farmers- how dare they only pay $47k

    Where is my violin, you and I can fiddle out a tune.

  24. Dave Kennedy says:

    You obviously have a lot of personal experience of dealing with adversity, Tracey, and are a strong person. I feel for the kids who aren’t that strong, still have potential, but may not have the opportunities that kids with all the advantages could have. I have taught many who despite all the support from schools and teachers are just too vulnerable to fulfill their potential. Not all children a resilient and can beat the odds.

    I have also known Maori and Pasifika children who haven’t done as well as they could because of prejudice and a biased legal system.
    http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Maori%20and%20the%20CJS/Maori%20chapter%2012%202007.pdf

  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    “not all children are resilient and can beat the odds”

  26. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E did you read my links about the hours worked and the hourly rate? Also I don’t find averages are a useful way of establishing what most workers earn as a few well paid ones can lift things considerably.

    Even at $47,000 if you divide that by 52 weeks then 60 hours a week (many work up to 80 hours) then it comes out at $15 an hour. If that is the average then half will be earning that or less and a living wage is considered to be over $18 an hour. This is hardly generous pay for what is supposed to be one of our most profitable industries.

  27. Mr E says:

    The NZ Dairy average hourly is 18.44 plus non cash benefits.

    Again, an apparent position of ignorance seems to undo your argument and to me it definitely makes your estimates look silly.

  28. Dave Kennedy says:

    If you compare the average and median hourly wage for men in 2013, there was a difference of $5.33. The average isn’t what most earn, the median is the most accurate measure.

    If the average hourly rate for dairy workers is $18.44 then conservatively we could probably say that the median would be around $3 less, which would make $15.44. That still means that 50% of dairy workers would be on that or less and possibly around 25% could easily be earning below the minimum wage. This would fit with the earlier links that I provided.

    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/pay-equity-rod-donald-was-right.html

    Could you also provide me with a link to your average so that I can get an idea where you sourced it from?

  29. Mr E says:

    Oh dear Dave,

    The data indicates that at 1st quartile is not even $3 less.
    Actually the lowest position, known as a dairy assistant is typically paid nearly $17/hr.

    Your slanted views, commonly against Dairy, makes me think you’re anti dairy.

    I’ve told you the source of my data. Feds employee remuneration survey 13/14.

  30. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, you can rely on the Feds own employee survey and I will rely on the links I used early that included the following…

    From the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate:

    “In total 44 farms were visited between December 2013 and early April 2014. Of these, 31 were found to be in breach of minimum employment rights.

    “The level of non-compliance is disappointing, with most of the breaches relating to insufficient record keeping. Farmers need to keep accurate time and wage records to ensure they are meeting their obligations for minimum wage and holiday payments.”

    I find it difficult to believe such a survey when records are so bad.

    Also in the Southland Times article it said from the same inspectorate when it visited Southland:

    “One-third of all dairy farm workers in Southland could be underpaid, a labour survey indicates.”

    I guess you disagree with Glen Herud’s blog post as well, he does seem like a reliable commentator, given he is a dairy farmer himself.

    I would like a link to your info so that I can see how the Feds data was collected, there isn’t always a history of honesty amongst some farmers:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1112/S00093/fonterra-must-explain-self-reporting-inaccuracy.htm

  31. TraceyS says:

    Dave at 11:04 pm:

    You might be confusing inner-strength with perseverance. I am no stronger than anyone else. The skill of perseverance is one of my learned strengths, however.

    Anyone can learn to persevere – even those who appear to be weak. To consider that some people are intrinsically weak is condemnation of the highest order and I would reject that belief with every part of my being.

    It is unfair to say “not all children are resilient and can beat the odds”. They can, and they will, provided they learn the skills of perseverance as modeled and supported by those in leadership roles within their communities.

    We, you and I (because we are both in community leadership roles), can start by believing that, despite outward appearances, everyone is a resilient and strong human being in some way. Everyone is capable of developing perseverance as one of their additional personal strengths.

    Without this belief you will not be able to help those who need your help the most.

  32. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I’m afraid that there are too many who are so damaged by what they have experienced in life (both psychologically and physically) that they will need a high level of support to lead a truly independent life. We now have a society that actively exploits vulnerable people and a Government that is literally underfunding and disestablishing supporting agencies. I can provide numerous examples of this.

  33. TraceyS says:

    You will no doubt be able to provide examples of changes to services, which is normal over time, but will you be balanced and also report on what they have been replaced with?

    Will you consider the difference that Partnership Schools can make in the lives of the disadvantaged? Just as an example.

    “too many…will need a high level of support to lead a truly independent life.”

    None of us lives a “truly independent life”, Dave. We are all highly dependent on one another. The problem is that some of us sit way up high on horses and don’t realise it. You’re one of them.

  34. TraceyS says:

    Dave

    If only you realised how much you, and the people you want to represent, are dependent on the local dairy industry.

    And the fossil fuel industry!

    And so on….

  35. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, so mega industries are too important to question regarding how they operate?

    You only have to look at what will be dismantled for rape crisis support in Christchurch, the cutting in funding to the most effective organisation to help problem gambling and look at the struggling mental health sector to find examples of where services are struggling to meet demand.

  36. TraceyS says:

    Dependency and questioning are not mutually exclusive options. Thank goodness.

    I frequently question systems, institutions, and other organisations that I (and my family) are dependent on, perilously. That is the role of governance and of an active citizen.

    The greater the dependence the higher the likelihood of upsetting someone. Getting offside is only helpful if you can recover from it. From permanently offside it is difficult to effect change. So taking care to question things in a balanced manner is very important.

    That your criticism of the dairy industry so bothers Mr E is an indication that he realises how many people are dependent on that industry. This should tell you something.

  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    Sorry Tracey, I’ve lost the point you are trying to make as you keep contradicting yourself. It seems all right for you to question institutions as an active citizen and not for me because of my background. If I do this I am supposedly whining and complaining 😉

  38. TraceyS says:

    There is a difference between criticising and questioning. Questioning does not have to be critical. Questioning is more effective if done in a balanced and open-minded way. That was my point. I don’t think that’s contradictory at all.

  39. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    The Feds survey is based on over 2000 dairy farmers. From what I can tell there is no reason for them to fudge the results and findings are in line with historical surveys of thousands of farmers. I think they are accurate for the purposes of this blog.

    Your link says that most of the employment breaches were related to insufficient record keeping not underpaying. It is fair to say that I think the dairy industry needs to improve in that arena. It is also fair to say that I am not surprised they are poor at record keeping.

    Tell me, have other industries been targeted in such a fashion? Is there evidence to suggest dairy farms are relatively poor?

    How good do you think farmers market participants are at employment record keeping?

  40. Mr E says:

    Also Dave,
    Can you tell me, do you support the concept of Woofers in New Zealand?
    What would be the average pay rate of a Woofer?

  41. TraceyS says:

    Or of a political intern:

    Are you interested in working as an intern on conservation, RMA, water and/or environment issues in the office of Green MP, Eugenie Sage? We can not offer pay. We can offer: first hand practical experience of politics from the inside, limited office space, stimulating work helping the Green parliamentary team progress our conservation and environment campaigns; and valuable career experience.

    https://home.greens.org.nz/jobs/intern-position-green-mp-eugenie-sage

  42. ploughboy says:

    credible and eric watson two words i didnt think a green party member would use in a sentance.and then finding hes credible on farming.

  43. Freddy says:

    I found myself agreeing with Eric Watson. He is an unlikely source but it sometimes takes a bit of distance to see the whole picture, so many of you keep talking past one another, the debate is getting nowhere.
    I spent sometime yesterday trying to find where in Georgia the farms were, curious as to the type of country it was. What struck me was, these big farms were just a tiny speck within such a vast country, our issues will never be theirs.
    Search on Google earth and have a look
    1193 Seven Oaks road, Waynesboro, Burke County.
    There’s a second farm alittle further south
    ,

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